12:36 am PST

Playing video games can be really satisfying some times. I mean, in some cases, video games can give you complete control over a world that can be customized exactly as you want.

With all this 3D technology running around and becoming more and more affordable, you can practically tune in into a world that is at your command. But is that world, real? 

I think that the journey of the video game started from one simple thing: a story. Or better said, from storytelling. When we listen to a good storyteller, we let our mind, body and senses emerge into a world created by our imagination, while the storyteller carefully crafts what is happening.

Then movies appeared, where our senses are directly stimulated by what’s happening on the big screen. If the movie is good and the actors play their parts well, we again connect our mind to a world that is actually not real, but makes us feel good so we go along with it.

Then video games came along. Video games contain stories but with the small (or big) difference that they let the listener or in this case, the player, change and pace the rhythm of the story.

The more interesting and more close to reality (or what you think is real), the more the player will let his senses and imagination merge and combine with the games he plays. Many people underestimate what a video game can actually do to your way of thinking, behavior and way of living in society. 

My experience is with these RPG (Road Playing Game) and third person games, where you can see the character on the screen with you behind, guiding him through the virtual world. After many years of playing video games, I started to realize that my thinking and behavior was seriously influenced by a certain video game. 

While I was going to school, I couldn’t stop thinking of what I’m going to do next, where am I going to travel, with what car, who am I going to meet and what other interesting activities I will be doing in the game.

I noticed that I started to build in my imagination an identity for the character in the game, starting to think of it as me and me as it. My thoughts were like: “What am I going to do today?” or “Where should I go and who should I meet?”. In my mind, I was talking like I was going to do things in real life when in fact I was thinking about the video game. Subtle?

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Many people may think: “So, what’s the problem? I also do this and I’m normal.” Yes, you are. But how about those people who spend so much time connecting their mind with a reality that does not exist just to feel good, and become socially incapable of developing a relationship with a member of the opposite sex, can’t behave normally in society or have a normal conversation with another person without switching from one subject to another or from one idea to another, while talking of things that happen in video games?

Again some people may be like: “So? Everyone is free to do whatever they like.” Yes, of course. It’s your choice. 

But maybe there are other people out there just like me who would have liked to know that this is not ok. That life is much more that just going after a good feeling in a virtual reality and that you can do so many interesting things while you develop your social skills, develop friendships with people in the real world and just use virtual reality and social networks to connect with people from all over the world, so you can set up a moment when to meet and talk face to face.

Even now I remember the day when somehow, I don’t know how, I turned my eyes away from the computer screen and looked outside. It was a beautiful summer day. There were no clouds and you could see the beautiful blue sky. A could see a few trees into the distance and I just watched how their branches and leafs were slightly moved by the wind. 

I blinked a few times and realized that my eyes were hurting a bit. I looked back at the computer screen and realized that while I was playing,  being so concentrated by what was happening there, my imagination filled the rest of the room with what was happening in the game.

I looked around the room and for the first time in quite a while, I could feel my breathing. “What am I doing?”, I asked myself. I realized that I had been playing for about 9 hours straight. 

I closed the game and went outside. At first it seemed strange. Things were moving slower around me and I couldn’t get from one place to another really fast. In fact, because things were much slower, this only meant that also the speed at which I could feel good slowed down. But in the video game, it was still I who was letting my imagination influence the way that I felt, while being in that “reality”. 

I was like…”Wow, I can’t believe how much time you can waste on something that is not real, just because it makes you feel good…is this what I want?”. 

Does that mean that I stopped playing video games from that point on? No, I still played them. But that day I had a breakthrough in the way I thought about video games. Each time I played I felt something was not right, out of place, that what I was doing was not the thing I should do right then with my time…

Now, more than 12 years after that first moment, I don’t play video games. What is interesting is that if I start to think about them and let my mind wander towards the idea of playing again, my interest starts building up. Isn’t that interesting? It all begins with a single thought.

I think that is a good conclusion for this article: It all begins with a single thought. That first, instant thought.

You think that something might be interesting, then you imagine yourself doing it and you start doing it. You think of a video game, you start to feel good while thinking about it and then you are one step away from immersing yourself completely into that universe, surrendering your imagination and feelings to a world who will satisfy your needs as long as you give it one of the most precious resources you have: time.

Remember that…

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